From 1 September, the government of Jakarta will provide free Internet access to the public along TransJakarta routes. This policy at a glance seems to be a positive move, but honestly I can’t see this as being the right thing to do.
TransJakarta bus shelters are nothing more than transit venues for passengers of the TransJakarta bus service. The majority of passengers don’t expect to spend more than ten minutes waiting at a shelter. That short period will most likely be spent trying to connect to the access point.
Say your bus is delayed for another five to ten minutes, what will you do online in such a short period over a free access? Most people would access social media sites. At best, it is useful for passengers who wish to check out the map. Other than that, it won’t be that useful for those who wish to learn or discover knowledge. Free Internet access at bus stops will only be a compensation for the lengthy time spent waiting at the shelter due to the lack of bus and the enormous volume of passengers.
Furthermore, by only providing internet access, the government seems to expect the people to have their own devices. To take advantage of this facility, passengers would have to have their own smartphones or notebooks, which are more commonly owned by the middle class or higher. The thing is this is the segment of the public who would already have their own mobile Internet subscription. Therefore having this facility on TransJakarta shelters is a mistake.
The same issue exists in the provision of hotspots by the governments of Bandung, Yogyakarta, and Solo. The public is expected to have their own devices but the hotspots are located at more locations more convenient that bus shelters.
Personally I’m more predisposed towards the effort by the Communications and Informatics Ministry in rolling out Mobile Internet Service Centers (PLIK). Those who wish to use the Internet can make their way to these mobile centers, this way, people who have no Internet-connected device such as a notebook or smartphone, can enjoy the service. This would also be more appropriate for education and productivity purposes.
It would be better for the governments of Jakarta and other cities instead of concentrating on providing free WiFI in public places if they were delivering Internet access to schools or district offices. Of course, those access points would be equipped with computers to be fully accessible by the public.